With oil prices soaring and a global focus on the need to reduce carbon emissions, governments in the region are exploring opportunities to develop renewable energy as an alternative to conventional sources.
Middle East governments are pouring billions of dollars into research and development of wind, solar, nuclear and hydrogen power.
They are joined by the world’s leading oil companies, which are keen to show leadership on the issue and have also been investing heavily in renewable-power schemes.
Abu Dhabi’s Masdar hydrogen power initiative, for example, is based on technology developed by BP.
But the challenge remains one of viability, both in terms of generation capacity and cost.
Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this. If this drive for green energy is to succeed, the only way is to push ahead with renewable-energy projects. The more schemes in operation, the more prices will fall.
Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, the UAE and Qatar are all planning to develop such schemes. In the case of North Africa, plans are in place to export power to Europe.
Sustainable power generation means ensuring a legacy for future generations, and it is here where cost-benefit analysis becomes more difficult.
Middle East governments appear to have accepted that, to ensure energy for future generations, it is worth paying more in the short term.
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Online-only Q&A: Masdar chief on solar energy investment
Online-only Q&A: Masdar chief on the importance of hydrogen power
Comment: Gas supply drives energy revolution
TABLE: Planned major renewable and alternative energy projects
|Abu Dhabi||Solar||Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar)||100MW||Tenders issued to four prequalified companies in May. Bids are due on 31 August|
|Abu Dhabi||Hydrogen power||Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar)||520MW; 20-25 million g/d||Final investment decision by year-end. Foster Wheeler is the consultant|
|Abu Dhabi||Nuclear||Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (Adwea)||3,200MW||French team of Areva, Total and Suez signed an agreement, in January 2008, with government to study a nuclear plant. Nine companies have been approached to provide programme management services|
|Dubai||IGCC||Dubai Electricity & Water authority (Dewa)||2,000MW||US-based Sino Global International is carrying out a feasibility study|
|Dubai||Solar||Dubai Electricity & Water authority (Dewa)||nk||Dubai Electricity & Water Authority has issued a tender for consultancy. Bids are due on 5 August|
|Egypt||Nuclear||Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC)||4,000MW||Egyptian Electricity Holding Company is evaluating bids from consultants|
|Egypt||Coal||Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC)||5,000MW||EEHC is studying a proposal for a plant on the Red Sea coast|
|Egypt||Ocean thermal energy||Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC)||nk||Under study. Xenesys is the consultant|
|Morocco||Coal-fired||Office National de l’Electricite||1,320MW||ONE announced the project in mid-July|
|Oman||Coal-fired||Power & Water Procurement Company (OPWP)||1,000-1,200MW||OPWP is studying a proposal to build a plant at Duqm|
|Qatar||Ocean thermal energy desalination||Kahramaa||nk||Qatar Electricity & Water Company signed an MoU with Japan’s Xenesys in November 2007 calling for a study to be undertaken|
|Qatar||Nuclear/ solar||Kahramaa||nk||Electricite de France signed co-operation agreement in January 2008 to look into nuclear and solar power|
nk = not known
Source: Power and Water in the GCC, MEED Insight, March 2008; MEED